What Are the Best Quad Exercises?


The quadriceps femoris is a four-headed muscle that’s located on the front of the thigh. Quads are integral for walking, running, jumping and squatting. They are also the strongest muscles in the human body. So, how do you make them stronger?


What Are the Best Quad Exercises?:

One study had participants perform a number of quad exercises while electrodes were attached to their body to measure muscle activation. Here are the results:

Best quad exercises emg chart

As you can see in the chart, hack squats came out on top. Whether it’s at a 50 or 90 degree angle doesn’t appear to matter in terms of muscle activation. It does matter, however, in terms of injury risk. Here’s a chart of force being put on the knee of squats at different angles (less than 90 degrees means going beyond parallel).

Quad Injury

So, don’t go far beyond parallel with your squats.  Here‘s how to do a machine hack squat (machines were used for the hack squats in the study) for those who don’t already know. Here‘s also a video on how to perform a hack squat on a smith machine and here‘s a video on how to do a barbell hack squat.



Give hack squats a try if you haven’t already. Regular squats and leg presses also work well if you’re feeling less adventurous. Good luck.



Boeckh-Behrens, Wend-Uwe, and Wolfgang Buskies. “Fitness-Krafttraining.”Reinbek bei Hamburg 20013 (2000).